Thursday, September 29, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Diana Prusik

by Diana Prusik

Many experts discourage author wannabes from quitting day jobs to seek writing careers. Wise advice, but teaching and parenthood left me no time to pursue other endeavors. So with my husband’s support and after years of prayer, I resigned from the classroom in 2005, intending to pen Delivery.

But it appeared God had other plans.

Days after I submitted my letter of resignation—even before the school year ended--doctors diagnosed my mother with cancer. Weeks later, they discovered a second primary cancer. Surgery to remove the disease resulted in life-threatening complications, requiring more extensive surgery. My role quickly shifted from aspiring novelist to caregiver.

My mom’s condition gradually improved, and I began drafting Delivery. I didn’t get far.

A series of family crises followed--my youngest son’s surgeries for an abdominal tumor and heart arrhythmia; my oldest son’s brain hemorrhage, car accident, and brain surgery; my oldest granddaughter’s narrow escape from an apartment fire and a tornado; my eight-year-old niece’s  death due to a failed double lung transplant; and more. I wouldn’t believe one family could experience such distress if I had not experienced it--or read the book of Job.

In spare moments, I hacked away at my fledgling manuscript, until one devastating event after another left me doubting my dreams.

Finally, I asked my pastor to help me pray. Was my desire to write a selfish ambition? If so, I was ready to raise the white flag. Or was it God’s calling? For that, I would persevere, despite the circumstances.

God answers prayer, but I could never have imagined how He would answer this one.

Weeks later, news arrived that my youngest son Tyler and his best friend Nathan had been in a fiery crash on their way to work.  Not knowing the outcome, I grabbed my keys, praying as I raced down the highway.  Before I reached the accident site, patrolmen diverted traffic off the closed interstate. Two helicopters hovered above the roadway. I lowered my window and begged an officer to let me through.  He flashed a sympathetic glance my way and radioed ahead.

Please don’t deliver more bad news!

Over the walkie-talkie, an officer at the scene said the boys were heading to separate hospitals.

Thank God. They’re alive!

Local TV news featured the accident not because of fatalities but because of amazing escape and rescue details. Although Nathan wore a seatbelt (which bruise patterns later verified), his body blasted through the passenger window as the car rolled, pinning him beneath a fallen tree. Tyler, trapped upside down by his seatbelt, discovered the driver’s door was jammed shut against the ground. Gasoline dripped on his jeans while flames leapt toward the windshield. Four witnesses, including an off-duty firefighter and two soldiers home from recent tours in Iraq, came to the rescue moments before fire engulfed the interior. It’s the stuff of action movies and parents’ nightmares. It’s the stuff of answered prayers.

When our family visited the salvage yard, I stared slack-jawed at the charred remnants with a new understanding of how narrowly both boys had escaped horrific deaths. Then, my husband nudged my arm. “Look at this!” He lifted a moldy, weathered book off the ground beneath the passenger’s window where Nathan was ejected--the broken window that created Tyler’s only escape route from the blazing car.  I glanced at the book. Chicken Soup for . . . . For what? I strained through tears to read the faded title:  Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul.

Arrow and circle show where book was found

The tow truck driver could have parked Tyler’s car many other places in that salvage yard, but he deposited it beside that book. God answers prayer, and He answered one more for me that day.

Car Interior

Never again did I doubt my calling. Energized by Chicken Soup’s inspirational stories, I attacked Delivery with renewed determination. Having no idea how to get it published, I trusted God to lead the way.

And He did.

A publisher sent an assortment of books to my Christian book club leader, who asked each member to read one. Because my husband loves climbing, I selected Tom Morrissey’s In High Places. Back matter introduced the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild to me. I checked out its website, which promoted the CWG Operation First Novel contest. I joined the Guild and finished my manuscript in time to meet the October 1, 2008, deadline by overnight mail.

Delivery placed three consecutive years: 2008 finalist, 2009 semifinalist, and 2010 finalist. Between each submission, I sought and received expert feedback, rewrote, and revised. Through Operation First Novel, I gained Tyndale House Publisher’s interest, which led to Delivery’s 2011 summer release as part of their Digital First Initiative.

Like my journey to publication, Delivery is a tale of family tragedy and the amazing power of prayer.

* Double Kindle 3G Giveaway *

by Diana Prusik

Tyndale House, August 2011

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family's small-town florist shop. There, the strong and wacky Wilson's Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness--Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community's deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn't know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead.

Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she's struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion--but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi's business its own. Fumbling through life's challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses?

Diana Prusik holds a bachelor's degree in English, graduating summa cum laude as an honors scholar in English, and a master's degree in secondary education. She served as a Parents as First Teachers parent educator and an English instructor on the middle school, high school, and community college levels. In 2005, she departed from her education career in order to create art, photography, and fiction. A happily married mother of four, she lives in her native Sullivan, Missouri, where she draws and paints in her in-home studio, searches for God's beauty with her camera lens, and writes with every opportunity the Lord grants her. She is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Her debut novel Delivery placed three times in the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest: 2008 finalist, 2009 semifinalist, and 2010 finalist. Diana's first place of employment, a small-town floristry rich with story ideas, inspired Delivery. She is blessed to still work there part-time as a floral designer, a position she has held since 1981. Learn more about Diana at and

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Flat Stanley Excursion to the 2011 ACFW Conference

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the 2011 ACFW Conference this year, but that doesn't prevent a creative person from being there. :)

Last week, trying to be funny, I sent my Inkspirational Messages blog friends a Flat Stanley version of myself so they could bring me along. (I know, the dress color is really hideous, but it's the best I could do on short notice.)

And they did just that. (You can read about my experiences on Lorna Seilstad's Inkspirational Messages post from yesterday, Bobble-Head Brenda at ACFW.) Sounds like I had an amazingly fun & educational time. I've been truly blessed with amazing friends!

Next year, I hope to leave the Flat Stanley version of myself at home and experience the conference in person--and not wearing yellow.

ACFW Genesis Contest Winners

ACFW Carol Award Winners

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Jennifer Rogers Spinola

by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

It’s amazing the way early memories and loves are so often fused into the deepest core of our being. Some of my earliest memories are making paper “books” out of construction paper, coloring the pages, and stapling them together along the spine. After I learned to write words, I started making stories to go along with the drawings, or poems, or even songs to sing with the story.

And after that, it was all over. I loved to write! I wrote in school, between classes, on the bus, and at home. Stories, longer and longer stories. Stories that came in installments so my fifth-grade classmates could read as I carried them in off the bus. Spiral notebooks that filled up with historical novels. A giant folder that I carried around, which included a personal list of synonyms, sheets of new vocabulary words and definitions, lists of city names, and several unfinished stories.

My greatest dream was to write books—lots of books. To see my name on the spine and thumb through the pages, remembering so many moments spent hovered over notebooks or sketching out plot ideas.

And then… life at full speed intercepted my writing hopes.

First there were high school clubs and SATs, and then college and midterms and first jobs and broken-down cars, then boyfriends and church “college and career” classes and Bible studies and prayer journals and… life. Snowstorms and college transfers and the death of my mother that changed my life forever.

And somewhere along the way, I had no more time for babyish novels, whose voices I could barely hear. I loved my old characters and dreams, the plots still clear in my head like nearly forgotten rivers of my childhood. I dreamed about them sometimes. But I could no longer find them.

Through the thicket of career choices I followed the scent of writing into journalism, where I landed a beautiful job as writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. Still in love with words, I wove articles about missionaries and changed lives. I tracked them into South America, interviewing new believers through a translator, and then into northern Japan as a missionary.

After my missionary term I married Athos, the brilliant Brazilian Christian exchange student I met in Japan, and found myself stuck in Brazil—a beautiful tropical country where I felt, for all practical purposes, useless. I couldn’t speak Portuguese, and all that Japanese I’d studied rang in my head like strains of the wrong song. I couldn’t use my journalism skills, didn’t have a car, and couldn’t even work until I was issued (after a lengthy wait) my official work documents.

And on one of those windy days of tropical winter, with the sea roaring outside the borrowed beach house where we lived, I scooted up a chair to our laptop and… began to write again.

* * *

As a child, I often wondered—late into the night—how I’d ever enter the world of publishing. Query letters and proposals and agents seemed far outside my simple, small-town realm, and the few query letters I sent out as a young teen served merely to show how little I knew about publishers and genres.

All of these things I wondered as I grew up… and eventually lost in that ocean of life and relationships and jobs.

Until that day in front of the computer screen when I resurrected one of my oldest novels and began to type with gusto. That day that stretched into years, page after page, chapter after chapter, completing one novel and starting another, then another. Toying with new explosions of options and plotlines and characters.

And I remember clearly a second important day in front of the computer screen. A clear fall day in Brasilia, in the large house where we were house-sitting. I realized that all of my chapters and work would most likely be for naught. I knew nothing about publishing, or even about fiction writing, and I had no clue what made a good novel nowadays. I could either give up, or I could follow the advice of my wonderful English college professor Dr. Gayle Price: “A writer writes because she must—not because she wants to get published. She writes because she simply can’t not write.”

“Okay,” I said to myself, typing another paragraph. “If nobody else sees this but me and maybe my children, it’ll still be worth it.”

Why? Because I can’t *not* write. And like Eric Liddell in “Chariots of Fire,” when I write, I “feel (God’s) pleasure.” I find joy in writing, whether or not another soul reads it: because it reflects the joy of my soul-calling.

A few years later I started pounding away on my first “Sushi” book, and not long after I met my former International Mission Board co-worker Roger Bruner, by then a published author with Barbour Books. He and his sweet wife, Kathleen, took a look at my (lengthy) manuscript, suggested some changes, and then submitted the first three chapters to Barbour.

And I waited on the edge of my seat, waiting for Barbour’s reply. Wondering if I might encounter one more breath of miracle at my computer screen.

* * *
My heart stopped the day I received an email from Barbour women's fiction editor Rebecca Germany, asking to see the full manuscript. I sent it, rough as it was, and waited... waited... waited... heart pounding until she finally wrote again. I'd given it up into God's hands, prepared to expect whatever she said, but her reply was simply to send the next manuscript in the series - or what I'd finished of it.

I sent the sequel and waited again. Changing diapers and teaching my son to eat ground pumpkin and avocado and tofu solid foods (all of which he loved at first, then refused for about three frustrating months). Mixing special (expensive) soy formula for his lactose intolerance. Up late at night with his cranky sleep times, stepping over the cat to get to the crib before Ethan's howls woke the apartment neighbors. Walking with Ethan in the cool of the morning and snapping pictures of rain on the leaves.

Rebecca wrote me once again, say there would be a meeting about book proposals in a month, and she'd know more after that.

The month came and went, and still I waited. Paced. Wrote. Emailed Roger Bruner back and forth to ask publishing questions. Tried my hand at "EC"-ing Ethan (Elimination Communication, where you teach a baby how to use a pot instead of his diapers)... a laughable goal for a new mom already in her 30s. Astounded everybody by holding my six-month-old preemie over a plastic potty and watching him "go." Reverting back to diapers again when, at a year old, he decided walking was more important than potty training - and loving it all.

And then one day out of the blue, on April 27, my husband called me from work.

"You'd better check your email," he said. "There's something from Rebecca Germany in your inbox, and I saw the word 'contract.'"

My heart stopped. I don't remember the wording of the email. I don't remember anything beyond hearing that word 'contract' ringing in my ears. All I remember is that I must have read it, must have sat there in frozen shock, must have called someone. Barbour was interested in a three-book contract.

From ME, the nobody from Brazil, who'd never even been to a writer's conference.

I cried. I thanked God.

And I didn't sleep for four nights in a row, staring up at the darkened ceiling in disbelief, joy, and shock - until my sweet husband bought me a bottle of natural passion fruit extract (what Brazilians use as a mild tranquilizer).

Even as I write about it all now, nearly a year and a half later and all three books submitted, one more book contract added, my eyes still fill with tears as the memories pour back. I still feel the joy. My life has changed so much because of that day. Because of Rebecca's decision to take chance on somebody like me, a newbie, with zero publishing experience. I've been able to stay home with my son, do the thing I've loved since childhood, and create... remember... weave... spin words...

No matter how many years or books I write, that day - that contract - will always stand out to me as a first. A forever mark on my soul. "I know You can do all things," said Job to the Lord. "No plan of Yours can be thwarted."

And he was right. Oh, how very right.


Barbour Books
October 2011
384 pages

Ride the rollercoaster of Shiloh Jacobs’s life as her dreams derail, sending her on a downward spiral from the heights of an AP job in Tokyo to penniless in rural Virginia. Trapped in a world so foreign to her sensibilities and surrounded by a quirky group of friends, will she break through her hardened prejudices before she loses those who want to help her? Can she find the key to what changed her estranged mother’s life so powerfully before her death that she became a different woman—and can it help Shiloh too?

Jennifer Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and two-year-old son, Ethan. She teaches ESL private classes and is the author of Barbour Books' "Southern Fried Sushi" series (first book released October 1!) and an upcoming romance novella collection based on Yellowstone National Park (also with Barbour Books).

Jenny is an advocate for adoption and loves the outdoors, photography, writing, and camping. She has previously served as a missionary to Japan, a middle- and high-school teacher, and National Park Service volunteer. Jenny has a B.A. in English/journalism from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina and has worked as assistant copyeditor for OnSat Satellite & TV Guide and as a staff writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and two other Baptist newspapers. Jenny is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers and has a Goodreads page.

LIKE SWEET POTATO PIE, coming March 2012

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Opposite of Art

by Athol Dickson
Howard Books 2011
384 pages
Artist Sheridan Ridler is a genius. He sees things others don't; his perception of color and sound, of the life moving around him, is on a completely different plain than the average person, and he translates that onto canvas. People are inexplicably drawn in and moved by his work and, though young, he's already touted as one of the greatest artists of all time.
Then Ridler is knocked into the river by a hit and run driver and is presumed dead. He doesn't die, but he experiences something beyond description, a Glory he longs to capture on canvas. But he fails and the memory fades. Ridler searches worldwide, living among religious leaders, seeking that experience again. His need to convey it to canvas is as desperate as our need for breath.
I've been looking forward to reading this book for months. When it comes to painting vibrant scenes with words and making them breathe, for perceiving action in a completely unique light, no one is better than Athol Dickson. Just listen to these lines from one of his opening paragraphs:
Shivering, Ridler watched the blood-and-bruises rhythm of the red and blue, red and blue, the flashes regular against the dirty masonry, worlds colliding in the patterns of lights and bricks.
Love that! And the amazing imagery continues throughout the novel.

Now, if you're looking for a quick, light read, this isn't that book. Like any masterpiece, The Opposite of Art is meant to be studied and savored slowly; it's intended to show messy lives, and to make you think, without giving easy answers. In that it succeeds.

But there were times where the imagery took over the plot, where the metaphor was so strong I wondered what the author meant. Perhaps that was Dickson's intention, as the book itself quotes:
Ridler had the feeling he should understand more than he did. He sensed something just behind a veil he could not see, ...
My thoughts exactly. As a literal thinker I really struggled with parts of Ridler's journey, parts where I felt I was witnessing it from above, not from within.

Regardless, I relished Dickson's gift for painting with words.

I wonder how much of himself Athol sees in Ridler.

For a terrific review of The Opposite of Art, check out Nicole Petrino-Salter's blog post:

Publisher’s Description
A poor woman in a shabby Los Angeles apartment receives an original oil painting by one of modern art's great masters, easily worth half a million dollars. Although the artist has been dead for a quarter century, the painting appears to have been recently completed. When the world's foremost authority on the artist's work pronounces it authentic, three lives are destined to collide: the sketch artist and roustabout at a traveling Mexican circus who longs to paint the face of God, the daughter the sketch artist does not know he has, and the man who plans to kill them both.

Athol Dickson is the publisher of the popular news website,, and the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir, The Gospel according to Moses. His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award, and compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publisher’s Weekly) and Flannery O’Connor (by The New York Times). He and his wife live in Southern California.

*Disclosure: I received this book at no cost from Howard Books for review purposes. A positive review was not required, merely an honest one.*

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight - Mary Moore

by Mary Moore

My writing journey began with my reading journey!  I grew up on secular Regency novels, and could never get enough of the genre.  Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, the Bronte sisters; they were all my “go to” when I wanted a good read.  I joined a book club where I received four new Regencies each month and I read them over and over until the next month’s batch arrived!

When I became a Christian in my early twenties, I began looking for Regencies with an inspirational message.  I could find the Westerns by Janette Oke and Amish fiction by Beverly Lewis, all of which I enjoyed, but Regencies seemed few and far between.

When my husband began working the midnight shift at the hospital (over 15 years ago!), I needed to let him sleep during the evenings.  That’s when I started writing my own stories.  They were for no one but me, but when a few friends asked to read them, they encouraged me to try to get them published.  I made a few half-hearted attempts, entered a Regency writing contest, and looked for an agent interested in promoting inspirational stories.  New York apparently was passing on its next best seller!

Ten years later my husband and I relocated to southwestern Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the manuscripts were boxed up and put in the attic in our new home, pretty much forgotten.  It was then that we faced the most difficult time of our lives; I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was a long process and a long recovery, but during that time, I pulled those old manuscripts out and re-wrote them.  I injected them with some of the gems God had showed me and messages that I hoped might touch someone else’s heart; all with a romance set in Regency London.

God pretty much took it from there!  I prayed as I began my search for a Christian agent and He answered my prayers with Jenny Burke.  She has been a Regency fan, and when she got the story she ran with it, we both did; and that unbelievable journey ended with a published Love Inspired Historical.

There are now many wonderful Regency authors in the inspirational market of women’s fiction; I’m blessed to be among them.  My desire is that secular and Christian readers alike would begin a love for the era as well as discovering that God-based fiction doesn’t mean boring and stuffy.

But it is His desire that I am seeking, and wherever this wonderful journey takes me, I give God all of the glory.

by Mary Moore

Love Inspired Historical, September 2011
230 pages

Amidst the glitz and glamour of a London Season, Lady Nicole Beaumont sees through the shallow excesses of her time. Convinced that a hidden disability has left her unfit for love, she determines to remain unmarried and live in quiet service to the Lord through the tenants on her father’s estate. But when Nicole unwittingly charms the cynical Lord Devlin on a garden terrace, her heart is awakened to his friendship…and the possibility of love. This story combines romance, inspiration, adversity, period details, and a shocking surprise in a spell-binding reminder that, in love, God's plan is the only one that really matters.

Mary Moore has been an avid student of the Regency era since the 1970’s and is a member of the ACFW’s historic fiction community. She has been writing historical fiction for over fifteen years. Mary had to put her writing on hold while undergoing health issues and breast cancer. She is now even more excited about her writing as she incorporates her struggles throughout her books; dedicated to encouraging others and using her talent for God’s glory. A native of the Washington, DC area, Mary and her husband now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia with their black lab, Darcy. When not writing, Mary enjoys time with her husband, watching BBC movies, reading and weekend get-a-ways.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Sandra Orchard

by Sandra Orchard

"I wasn't going to be one of those people who died wondering what if? I would keep putting my dreams to the test - even though it meant living with uncertainty and fear of failure. This is the shadowland of hope, and anyone with a dream must learn to live there."
- Alex Haley

Haley’s quote is posted on the home page of my website, and is an apt description of my journey to publication. Thankfully, my shadowland of hope included the odd contest win or editor request and other timely nudges of encouragement from God to persevere.

The encouragements I most delighted in were the friendships God brought into my life along the way. I have no doubt He orchestrated the delivery of my Romance Writer's of America magazine to another aspiring writer in my small community. A writer who was so excited to discover another crazy person in town that she hand-delivered the magazine to my doorstep and invited me to attend a local writing group that I had no idea existed.

I was also profoundly blessed, long before I ever became published, to have the opportunity to minister through those writing relationships to people I might otherwise have never met.

I could fill pages recounting writing courses and workshops I’ve taken, craft books I’ve read, conferences I’ve attended, and critiques I’ve paid for, not to mention all the manuscripts I’ve written and rewritten. But from the outset I’d been warned that the journey is typically long and fraught with setbacks. As a result, my expectations were realistic, and the positive feedback—including signing with an agent following my first-ever conference—was super-encouraging.

But that elusive first contract was not to be for a few years, a few manuscripts and another agent later.

In hindsight I'm glad for this. I learned so much about crafting stories in those years. I was mentored by fabulous authors. And I proved to myself that I could write to a deadline. So that by the time Love Inspired Suspense offered me my first contract and asked for two books per year, I had the second in the proposed series finished and had plenty of time available to plot the third. It made the whole process much less stressful, especially as art fact sheets and marketing were added to my things-to-do list.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

My advice to all whether published or pre-pubbed is enjoy the journey. See God’s hand in the little things. Embrace the friendships. And don’t give up.

by Sandra Orchard

Love Inspired, September 2011
224 pages

Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick--he never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he's back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny's uncle. The man's crimes led to Rick's partner's death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is in the middle of it. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment...and risking both their lives?

Sandra Orchard lives in rural Ontario with her real-life hero husband, two of their three children, and a young husky with a fetish for rubber boots and remote controls.

Although Sandra taught high school math before starting her family, her childhood dream of becoming a writer never strayed far from her thoughts. She dabbled in writing how-to articles and book reviews, but for many years, needlecrafts, painting, and renovating a century-old farmhouse satisfied her creative appetite.

Then she discovered the world of inspirational fiction, and her writing took on new direction.

In 2009, she won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and the following year, on her “graduation day” as a home-educator (i.e. her youngest daughter’s first day of college), Sandra learned that Love Inspired wanted to publish her first novel. And so her Undercover Cops series began.

Sandra loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website, Romantic Suspense to Inspire the Soul

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reading & Roller Coasters

In honor of National Literacy Month, our family combined two of our favorite past times: reading & roller coasters.

This past Saturday (September 10, 2011) at Valleyfair, Minnesota's largest amusement park, we were invited to participate in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record(TM) for Most Adults Reading to Children at One Time and One Location. The record to beat was 347 adults.

Starting shortly after 11:00 a.m. 360 adults read to 360+ children, all from the same book, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, for five straight minutes. Being we were located in the Planet Snoopy area of Valleyfair, the book was a perfect choice.

And voila! we're in the record books.

Then we got to ride the roller coasters.

Ahhh, reading & roller coasters ... can you think of a better combination of fun?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Novel Anticipation ... September Releases

As an avid reader, there's nothing more fun than anticipating the release my favorite authors' upcoming novels. Oftentimes I'm awaiting the next book in a series. Other times, I simply can't wait to read an artist's latest masterpiece.

September brings both. The authors I've named below are the premier writers of Christian fiction.

No, let me rephrase that.

They're top-notch novelists. Period.

So, if you're looking for quality, thought-provoking reads, you don't have to look any further than the three books I have listed below:


Howard Books, September 2011

A great artist is cast into the icy Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver.

His heart stops, and he sees something that defies description.

Presumed dead by all who knew him and obsessed with the desire to paint the inexpressible, he embarks on a pilgrimage to seek help from holy men around the globe.

But is it possible to see eternity without becoming lost within it? After a quarter of a century, when the world begins to whisper that he may be alive, two people come looking for the artist: the daughter he never knew existed, and the murderer who hit him on the bridge all those years ago.

No one can top Athol Dickson in weaving words together to create an exquisite work of art. Not only does he tell a compelling story, but his prose sings like a Handel oratorio. The Opposite of Art is next in line on my bed stand. Having it sit there, calling to me, is worse than having a Hershey bar on my dresser. I know it's a book I will savor.

Revell, September 2011

While investigating a double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that twists through long-buried Cold War secrets and targets present-day tensions in the Middle East.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a multi-layered storytelling tour de force that not only delivers pulse-pounding suspense but also deftly explores the rippling effects of the choices we make.

Steven James is one of the most gifted creators of mystery/thriller stories in modern day literature. When I'm reading his novels, I often marvel at his imagination (and I do my share of cringing too). His mind must be a frightening place. Trying to keep his multiple story threads straight is always an exciting intellectual challenge.

Center Street, September 2011

Many years have passed since civilization's brush with apocalypse. The world's greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace... and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

Fleeing pursuit, with only moments to live, a young man named Rom stumbles into possession of a vial of blood and a piece of cryptic writing. When consumed, the blood will bring him back to life. When decoded, the message will lead him on a perilous journey that will require him to abandon everything he has ever known and awaken humanity to the transforming power of true life and love.

But the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

Set in a terrifying, medieval future, where grim pageantry masks death, this tale of dark desires and staggering stakes peels back the layers of the heart for all who dare to take the ride.

I'm looking forward to reading Forbidden even more than I anticipated reading HOUSE, Dekker's joint venture with Frank Peretti. Tosca Lee, on top of being an expert at knitting complex stories, has a beautiful way with prose, much like Athol Dickson. Combine that with Dekker's seriously warped imagination, and I know I'll have a book I can't put down.

What September releases are you looking forward to reading?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Rose McCauley

by Rose Allen McCauley

I have been writing for over nine years and joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) 8 years ago. My writing has steadily improved since then, but the elusive first contract had remained out of reach until Friday evening, September 17, 2010.

God has taught me many things over the past nine years, the main things being patience and learning to wait. When I awoke that morning and read my chapter in Jeremiah, there was a devotion by Catherine Marshall on the facing page, so I read it, too. It was entitled "Waiting". I told my roommate, Jennifer Johnson, about my devotion, then we attended a class, ate lunch, shopped at the mall, and went to the opening worship session at 3:30.

The worship leader Rachel Hauck, chose the song "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller for us to sing at most of our sessions. It begins:

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait.

Are you getting the message with me? Wait with patience! And keep serving and worshipping while you are waiting!

Next our president, Cynthia Ruchti, read from Colossians chapter three, and verse 12 was very familiar since it is posted on my bedroom mirror: "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." That last word jumped out at me and I leaned over to Jennifer and told her God was still telling me to wait and learn patience.

Then Becky Germany, editor at Barbour Publishing, took the stage and said she was ready to announce the 2 new authors who would receive their "first contract", something Barbour has done at each conference. When she announced the name of the first story as Nick's Christmas Carol, it sounded vaguely familiar but I still didn't realize it was a story I had written until she said my name! Then I went up on stage in front of over 600 people, amid cheers and shouts, and was handed an envelope with my name on it and a letter offering me a contract for my first fiction story.

The best part was later on when one of my dear friends and prayer-partners, Connie Stevens who had received her first contract from Barbour in 2009, told me that God had impressed on her heart to pray for the ones who would receive their first contract the following year. So, she prayed that prayer that whole year and didn't know she was praying for me (and Donna Rich)!

Later that evening at the Barbour dinner, I told Donna about the prayer cycle Connie began, and we both agreed to continue it by praying for the persons who will receive their first contract in September, 2011. Kind of paying it forward by praying the prayer that was prayed for us. So, my advice to any yet-unpubbed author and to all of us, is to keep waiting patiently and praying and worshiping the One who deserves all our praise.

by Rose McCauley
Jeanie Smith Cash
Jeri Odell
Debra Ullrick

Barbour Novella
September 2011
352 pages

Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Peterson comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

Rose McCauley has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. She is happy for this to be her first fiction anthology because Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for 43 years, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to three lovely, lively kids! You can reach her through her website or blogsite at